The world of technology and the internet can look very different from a nonprofit organization’s perspective. With a board of directors, budgets, and often limited personnel, properly vetting and implementing new technology can be a daunting task.
In the first of our series of blog posts focused on technology and nonprofit organizations, we take a look at the best tips to help grow your nonprofit’s digital presence. Here is some of what’s new in the world of the web and social media that can help your organization succeed.
Make the Internet Work for You
What does your nonprofit’s web presence look like? Is it a seldom-updated Facebook page? A website that hasn’t seen a major overhaul in years?
The internet is all about visibility, reliability, and holding a user’s attention. Once you establish these, client and donor engagement should follow.
If a potential donor uses Google or Bing to search for your nonprofit, what will they find?
Search engines now seek to provide the smart answers. They try to answer a search’s intent, and they try to do it well. As search engine algorithms have evolved, so has the field of search engine optimization (SEO). For your website, the process of SEO implements what Google or Bing’s algorithms are looking for in your nonprofit’s category. Sites that maximize their SEO show up higher in search results.
The first step to visibility is actually having a web presence, which means having not just a Facebook or LinkedIn page, but also a well-maintained website. A pre-formatted site from a provider like WordPress or SquareSpace can serve your purpose, if done well.
The number one way to build your digital presence is to have one! Make sure you have a website, and keep it updated.
The second step is optimizing your presence. When is the last time your web presence was updated? Search engines look for sites that are regularly updated. A site that hasn’t been touched quickly drops in rank compared to other sites that discuss the same topics. Even name recognition goes down when tied to a stagnant web presence.
How accurate are your listings? All websites, Facebook pages, and directory information should point to the same location, hours, and phone number. Consider the clients. If there are two or three addresses listed, where should they go? Many will seek another solution, rather than attempt to navigate a confusing one.
Inaccurate or missing information is a signal to search algorithms that your site probably isn’t the most reliable source for information. The ultimate reliable website shares everything a user needs to know in an easy-to-navigate menu with mobile-friendly formats and inspires confidence in your nonprofit as a result.
Google yourself! Does all the information that comes up point to the right place, times, and contact information?
Attention Grabbers – and Keepers
No one is suggesting that your nonprofit become the next Buzzfeed, but a website user who is interested in the information on your site stays longer, visits again, shares information with friends, and —most importantly—can become a client, volunteer, or donor.
Entertainment doesn’t have to mean flashy videos. Think about what a visitor to your website wants to see. Your site should be easy to navigate, provide clear information, and answer potential questions. The nature of search algorithms (the higher a site ranks in search, the more people visit, the longer the visits, the more trust the algorithm has in a site, the higher a site ranks in search, etc.) means it’s important that visitors don’t just click once and are done.
Because of the personal and often life-changing impact nonprofits offer, you have a unique opportunity to keep website visitors interested and engaged. Personal stories about real people can spur volunteers and donors into action. They are also a wonderful source of content for social media.
Provide the information visitors need, and then give them a reason to keep reading.
Stake Your Claim in the Social World
Think of social media as free advertising. Searches for organizations and people are not just done on search engines, but on platforms like LinkedIn and Instagram. Presence on social media not only gives you a place to post updates, advertisements, and success stories, but also helps build a complete profile of your organization.
If you are a total stranger to social media, getting started may seem daunting. But as discussed above, SEO makes or breaks online visibility. Algorithms, whether Google’s or Facebook’s, determine what users see when they type in a keyword or the name of a nonprofit. Active social media accounts inform those algorithms that the page is active and that it has a better chance of containing the answer to a searcher’s query. An up-to-date listing on Facebook or Google My Business assures algorithms and users alike that an organization is legitimate.
As of this posting, there are several social media platforms that you should be aware of, but don’t feel pressured to maintain an active presence on all of them. While each can benefit your nonprofit, the audience and method of posting on some may not be a good match for you. While there are free services that allow for cross posting to different platforms at the same time, what works on Facebook or LinkedIn won’t fare well on Tumblr. The best course of action is to tailor content to the platform on which it is posted. Here’s a list of the most popular social networks for you to consider:
- Facebook. Almost universal in usage. Perfect for sharing information and news, and establishing your brand.
- Twitter. Essential for the plugged-in audience. Popular hashtags come and go in the space of hours, so participation has to be constant. Quips and memes perform well in this space.
- LinkedIn. Professional space for news sharing, updates, and networking. Can be used to connect with high-profile individuals and to share your message in the nonprofit field.
- Instagram. An image-based network. Telling your story through pictures can give you access to a whole new audience.
- Tumblr. Fast-paced, meme-centric, and a must-visit for an audience of teens and young adults.
Once you have a successful social media account, you no longer have to do all the work yourself. Followers will use the space as a place to congregate, sharing your posts and your story with their own circles and granting you exposure you wouldn’t have otherwise.
Establishing and improving your internet presence is just the beginning of our nonprofit-focused blog series. Stay tuned for our next blog all about the cloud! Do you represent a nonprofit that is in need of managed IT services? Contact Anderson Technologies today at 314.394.3001 or firstname.lastname@example.org.